SENATE PASSES BILL TO PROTECT RAILROAD PASSENGERS FROM SECOND-HAND SMOKE Legislation Would Ban Smoking on MTA Train Platforms and in Boarding Areas

Owen H. Johnson

June 17, 2011

    The New York State Senate today gave final legislative passage to a bill, sponsored by  Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick), to help protect MTA passengers from harmful second-hand smoke exposure.

    The legislation (S3461C) would ban smoking in outdoor spaces for ticketing, boarding or platforms of train stations operated by the MTA or its subsidiaries, such as Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North. Both the City of New York and the State of New Jersey have already enacted similar laws banning smoking on outdoor train platforms.

    “Thousands of commuters are being exposed to harmful second-hand smoke every time someone lights up a cigarette while waiting for a train,” said Senator Fuschillo, who authored the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act in 2003.  “Second-hand smoke exposure can lead to a number of different health problems, even among non-smokers. New York needs to expand its own anti-smoking laws to better protect people from second-hand smoke.”

    Reducing exposure to harmful second-hand smoke will go a long way towards improving public health. The New York State Department of Health estimates that second-hand smoke exposure kills 2,500 New Yorkers every year. Exposure to second-hand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths among non-smokers every year, according to the American Lung Association.

    “It is not uncommon to see riders on these platforms move away from individuals who are smoking so as to not expose themselves to harmful second-hand smoke,” Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said. “I applaud Senator Fuschillo for his efforts to ensure that New Yorkers have cleaner air to breathe. “

    The legislation is “strongly supported” by the American Cancer Society, that noted in a memo of support that “the only way to ensure that non-smokers are protected from second-hand smoke in an outdoor public place is to eliminate the source of the smoke.”

    The legislation has been approved by the State Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for consideration.